- Mark Sheldon
- Wes Montgomery Tribute Day featuring: Front row: Robert Montgomery, Wes's son; row two: Fareed Haque, Russell Malone, Serene Montgomery, Wes's mother, Dave Stryker, Royce Campbell, Henry Johnson; row three: Zev Feldman, Willie Jones lll, Luke Sellick, Rick Germanson
Now as your Music Editor, I might be a little biased, but I think music is the best thing that exists on planet Earth. Okay, a lot biased. But really: Is there any greater pleasure that exists on this temporal plane than hearing your favorite band play in your favorite venue? Nope. We’re gonna say a strong nope to that. Your Best of Indy music section includes your favorite bands, venues, albums, and so much more. For those, turn the page.
Find Best of Indy Readers' Picks here.
Best punk shit we’ve seen all year
Draken Mogollón hasn’t had all the breaks in life, but he is an 11-year-old who loves music. This was abundantly clear watching him on stage playing Brad St. Patrick’s guitar after Black Cat Rebellion’s set at Kids’ Punk Rock Night. This kid talked his way onstage and then, unlike most would, when suddenly put on the spot, he actually had the chops to do something with the instrument. We’ve all been the wide-eyed kid in the room, looking up to musicians, wanting to be that guy on stage ruling the crowd. Draken’s already taken more than a few steps toward that goal, and in my eyes that is Punk As Fuck. - Jonathan Sanders M
Duck inside The Wellington’s wooden door and you may as well be transported to the Leaky Cauldron — or perhaps a Muggle British establishment. Seriously, the Wellington, which is attached to Corner Wine Bar, is so quaint it doesn’t even have a sign. The drinks are stiff, the dartboards are usually open and seating is comfy enough to have a little kip. This is a Broad Ripple Strip spot that doesn’t feel at all like a spot on the Broad Ripple Strip.
Best 100-year-old reason Indy’s music scene rules
Indianapolis has had a music scene of international importance since at least 1928. That’s the year Indy blues gods Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell recorded their groundbreaking version of “How Long, How Long Blues.” The record was an immediate hit. It was bigger than a hit. It was a sensation. Blackwell’s single-string leads changed the way guitarists approached their instrument and Carr’s impossibly cool vocals led Black American music in a more urban direction. And while we’re visiting the 1920s, If you factor in the importance of outlying spaces in Central Indiana like Richmond’s Gennett Records, then Indiana certainly emerges as one of the most important music-making hubs of early 20th century global culture. From Charley Patton to Louis Armstrong, Gennett was recording some of the most revolutionary musicians of the era. Indianapolis would continue to produce musicians of global importance into the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. Artists like Freddie Hubbard, J.J. Johnson and Wes Montgomery defined new levels of cool while changing the sound and perceptions of their chosen instruments. - Kyle Long
Best group photo
Hands down, it’s the shot by Mark Sheldon from Indy Jazz Fest’s Wes Montgomery tribute day you see at the top of this page. From front, you see: Robert Montgomery, Fareed Haque, Russell Malone, Darren Montgomery, Dave Stryker, Royce Campbell, Henry Johnson, Zev Feldman, Willie Jones III, Luke Sellick and Rick Germanson. That’s a whole lot of musical power gathered to celebrate the music of Wes — plus his mother and son. Hey, there’s a reason Indy Jazz Fest won Best Festival in this year’s Best of Indy — okay, no more spoilers.
Best time Indy’s music scene came together for a party
Having attended several all-encompassing music events in recent years, I cannot say that I ever have attended one that featured such a diverse representation of voices as Fountain Square Music Fest. Alongside Andrew W.K. and Thurston Moore, all kinds of local musicians were given a chance to show off their talent, whether it was Hoops with their guitar-pop or Sweet Poison Victim with their invigorating afro-funk. When I think of my ideal cultural events of any kind, this is what I want to see most. The more this city’s local music communities come together and make awesome things happen, the better. - Seth Johnson
Best band to see in a German biergarten with your dad
For years, Polka Boy has taken over places like the Rathskeller and performed three sets for a legion of dads — including our own dad. Polka Boy is the best kind of cover band: One that has a ton of fun; one that has hyper-loyal fans; and one that plays polka. What can we say? Our brains have been melted by gigantic mugs of weihenstephaner and love of “Hungarian Dance No. 5.”
Best reason to keep investing in a theoretically dying medium
Okay, so you’re reading a print magazine at this moment in time, right? So it makes sense that you’re also — if you’re a loyal reader and local music fan — investing in some vinyl once in a while. There’s more than just our great local record stores to thank for the abundance of vinyl. Local labels like Joyful Noise Recordings, In Store Recordings and new kid on the block Romanus Records pump out tons of interesting, beautiful vinyl releases yearly. Keep independent music (and independent print media) alive by investing in physical copies of the music you love. Okay, stepping off our soapbox now.